Church of Santa María Magdalena: Historical Introduction.
The Church of La Magdalena (Mary Magdalene) was one of the first temples built after the conquest of the city by Fernando III the Saint. Located among the neighbourhoods of Santiago, San Pedro or San Andrés, this singular neighbourhood, birthplace of popular citizens like the chronicler Rafael Ramírez de Arellano, was characterized from the beginning by its great dynamism and prosperity, where merchants’ shops mixed with houses of the highest lineage, as we can appreciate nowadays in numerous commemorative plaques hanging on their façades.
The regulating centre of the neighbourhood was La Magdalena Square, where the church was and still is, a square which is currently a garden with benches, a fountain… for the leisure and enjoyment of the neighbours. However, since medieval times, it was used as a bullring, where citizens from all around the city gathered.
There are few documents referring directly to the Church of La Magdalena. Therefore, it is very difficult to establish an exact building date, although we know the works were well advanced at the end of the 13th century. For example, we know that Rodrigo Alfonso de Armenta and his wife Urraca Martínez, and thanks to a donation given by them, were conceded a chapel in the church, which was later known as Chapel of the Pains, located on the side of the Gospel. There is also a document preserved, dated in 1483, where Catalina Ruiz, Pedro Muñiz de Godoy’s wife, councilor of Córdoba, requested to be buried in a chapel of this Fernandine temple.
As in other medieval temples of the city, the building has experienced extensions and transformations throughout the years, which have altered its original state. The sacristy is an addition from the first third of the 16th century, or the plasterwork vaults from the 18th century that covered for so many years the medieval wooden ceilings, and which were recently removed. In the 18th century, the old tower was substituted by the current one, a moment when the entrance at the foot of the church was blinded to locate the choir stalls, something that was also done in the Church of San Nicolás de la Villa in the city centre. In 1990 there was a great fire which almost made it disappear. Since then, no services are celebrated, and it has even been desacralised. Nowadays, the church is run by the bank Cajasur, which organizes concerts and other cultural events.
The neighbourhood of La Magdalena occupied a great extension in the east of the city, in the area of the Ajerquía, very close to the wall, which, in this part, was defended by the so-called Torre de los Donceles (Tower of Young Nobles), which, according to what Teodomiro Ramírez de Arellano wrote in his Paseos por Córdoba (Walks around Córdoba): "…it owned its title to the fact that it was guarded by the youngest part of the Christian troops and it was later used as a prison for the sons of nobles from Córdoba who committed any offence". The remains of these primitive defensive structures can be seen in Escañuela Street. Of great significance for this neighbourhood is Muñices Street, which is named after the family Muñiz de Godoy, a great lineage of knights who fought under the orders of numerous kings of Castilla.
Close to the Church of la Magdalena there was the missing Puerta Nueva (New Gate), old entrance to the east of the city, which is remembered today with a small column. Through this gate, Monarch Felipe II entered the city in 1570. Besides, from one of the houses flanking the gate, General Dupont was shot, when he was about to enter the city in 1808. The failed shot triggered the great slaughter that unfortunately took place in our city.
If you wish to know the Fernandine Churches, do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We will pay special attention to the Church of La Magdalena. We are experts in the interpretation of the historical heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.